Building a Digital Ecosystem
How ophthalmic electronic health records are helping to seamlessly integrate one practice’s clinic and ASC
Even though our Empire Eye and Laser Center and our Empire Surgery Center are next door to each other, working with loose paperwork is, and always has been, a huge issue for us, as we’re sure it is for many combination clinic/ASCs like ours.
Fortunately, those issues are coming to an end now that both our clinic and ASC (ambulatory surgery center) are leveraging Modernizing Medicine®’s electronic health records system, called EMA®, and modmed® ASC, its complement for the surgery center. We’re also now employing the appointment reminder system and modmed Kiosk, which allows arriving patients to enter their own data electronically. Both of these solutions are further reducing our reliance on paper and helping us to improve the patient experience.
From Paper to Electronic
Indeed, if you need just one reason to build a “digital ecosystem” to cover both your standalone ophthalmology clinic and your standalone ophthalmic ASC, it’s the paperwork. Believe us, we know. For years, we’ve persevered with paper-based information being shared between the two buildings and the potential for mistakes that come with that, especially when changes in appointments, treatment, or other aspects of care are required.
Streamlining Patient Records
Cataract surgeries, for example, require patients to be cleared by their family doctor before undergoing the procedure. Those clearances are supposed to go directly to the ASC, but they often come back to the clinic instead, and we must forward them to the surgery center.
Sometimes, patients or their doctor will also change their surgical appointments or the types of intraocular lenses that will be implanted. That information also needs to make it to both places. Most of the time it does, but often, it doesn’t. These issues may not seem like a big deal, but they do affect efficiency and pose the risk of important patient information getting lost.
A Variety of Benefits
And while we are still on the journey toward fully connecting our clinic and ASC digitally, we are already beginning to realize many of the benefits. For example, we are able to directly email the surgery center each patient’s chart notes, along with their insurance information — no more sending that information over with the patient or via intraoffice envelopes, eliminating the risk of misplacing charts.
Another benefit: our respective staff no longer have to decipher physician handwriting because everything gets typed into the ophthalmology EHR and, at least on the clinic side, ultimately arrives in our practice management system, which also comes from Modernizing Medicine. Because all charts are now electronic, we can now go straight to the work we need to do for the patient instead of trying to figure out what the order says.
A third benefit relates to how EMA and modmed ASC help the check-in process. Under our old paper-based system, patients could get much of the way through check-in before learning, for instance, of an issue with their insurance coverage and they couldn’t proceed with their procedure. With modmed Kiosk, patients can’t move forward with check-in unless all this information gets entered and validated. It’s yet another way to eliminate one possible route for errors.
A Bright Future
The benefits of building our “digital ecosystem” with EMA, modmed ASC, and modmed Kiosk help have really given us a taste of the paperless future, and we’re excited about the time savings and other benefits that going digital is going to provide us and our patients.
Sarah LeVan and Erin Bliss
Sarah LeVan is provider relations/marketing coordinator, and Erin Bliss is the surgery scheduling manager at Empire Eye and Laser Center and Empire Surgery Center in Bakersfield, CA.